I'll make an exception to fair use, and post it in its entirety.
Rowing teams share a special bond, and at Holy Cross, they’ll share an awful grief
By Tara Sullivan Globe Staff
The Florida crash that claimed the life of Holy Cross rower Grace Rett will surely be explained someday. But it will never make sense.
It will never be logical that Rett’s life ended so soon, never be fair that such an accomplished young athlete was cut down in her prime, never be right that devastated teammates and coaches will be forever connected by this unimaginable tragedy.
The foremost heartbreak certainly lies with the Rett family, with the parents and sister the 20-year-old from Uxbridge left behind, and the other relatives who knew and loved her most. They are experiencing a brand of loss no family should be burdened to bear.
But as our sympathies spread beyond the innermost circle of Rett’s life, they reach, and forever touch, the team she left behind, too, as their landscape has been unbearably altered. For all the value of getting involved in sports, perhaps nothing is better than becoming part of a greater whole, of finding a place in a group of like-minded individuals, all willing to work together to achieve a common goal.
Our teammates very often become treasured lifelong friends, standing up at our weddings and celebrating the birth of our children, reflecting the bonds built through all those hard practices, intense competitions, and yes, those bus rides in high school or van rides in college.
And within the world of team sports, there is a special level of commitment in joining crew.
Rowers know what I mean.
Grace Rett chose a sport that doesn’t play to sold-out stadiums or packed arenas, but does demand pre-dawn practices on frigid waters. She chose a sport whose motto can be boiled down to five words: “I can’t. I have crew.”
She chose a sport that was just getting started back when she was a freshman at her small Catholic high school in Connecticut, one her enthusiasm helped build into one that propelled her to become the first Marianapolis Prep graduate to join a college rowing team.
She chose a sport that would take her to Vero Beach, Fla., with her teammates for warm-weather training, chopping weeks off their winter break to work out rather than taking a break in the spring to hang out.
She chose a sport that clearly chose her right back, one she enjoyed enough to commit herself to breaking a world record this past December, her 62-plus straight hours rowing on an indoor machine highlighted in a story in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.
“I’m not usually someone who stays up late,” she told the paper.
She was far more likely to be up early, as she and her teammates were Wednesday, driving toward the Vero Beach rowing club as the sun rose. There were no cameras charting their entrance, like those following Clemson and LSU for Monday night’s college football championship game.
To be a rower, and to be a rower at a school like Holy Cross, is to work in relative anonymity, to be driven by forces that have nothing to do with big-time budgets or scholarship money.
“I think part of the satisfaction of being a rower is that it’s something no one cares about in a way — it’s just you, you and your teammates,” my friend Deirdre McLoughlin explained.
Deirdre and I grew up together in another insular world, the one of Irish dance. She went on to row for Boston University, eventually earning her doctorate in physical therapy there. She practices in California and provides services to the US rowing team, traveling with them to major international competitions, including the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo.
I called Deirdre to better understand the mind of a rower, and as she pulled out of a day’s work at the US rowing training center in Oakland, she did so with Holy Cross and Rett on her mind. It was the talk of the boathouse, stopping the kindred spirits in their tracks, frozen by the empathy of “there but for the grace of God go I.”
“When you meet a rower, on a plane or out to dinner, you already know so much about that person,” Deirdre told me. “You know they’re loyal, dedicated, that they’ll go to bat for you, that they’re going to show up. Because they know, if they don’t show up, the boat doesn’t launch.
“There’s an adage about hiring athletes because they’ll be team players. In rowing, you are needed, you are a piece of the puzzle, needed in a way I didn’t experience in other sports like basketball or softball. There’s a draw in that, and it’s not about ego, that you matter. It’s that everyone matters.
“That’s the feeling I think about for that team, the feeling they’re going to have all year long.”
In a statement, Rett’s family described their daughter as “a warm-hearted, kind and gifted young woman, [who] lived every second of every day with a contagiously positive spirit that enriched the lives of everyone around her.
“Words cannot express how utterly heartbroken we are at the loss of our beloved Grace.”
A Twitter message from a former teacher at Marianapolis underscored those sentiments. “Grace: you were the epitome of unconditional love and empathy, and you made better the lives of all who crossed your path,” Jake Smith wrote Wednesday. “It was the honor of my life to be your teacher, confirmation sponsor, and adviser, and I will miss you terribly.”
Grace Rett made a mark on the world. The world should have given her more time in return. In his stirring 1896 poem “To an Athlete Dying Young,” A.E. Housman writes of the glory in departing before the body is old and forgotten, before records are set and broken:
Smart lad, to slip betimes away From fields where glory does not stay, And early though the laurel grows It withers quicker than the rose.
I disagree. Grace Rett, an athlete so filled with promise, a teammate so dedicated to a sport she loved, a rower to her very core, deserved more time, more time to compete for Holy Cross to the end of her senior year, to be with her teammates through victories and defeats, to travel the roads and traverse the rivers up and down the East Coast. She deserved it all.
I am beyond sad. These stories tell us that despite what some posters here have said, the quality of the students at Holy Cross has not diminished over the years. Grace Rett was obviously aptly named by her parents, as she truly had "grace." May she rest in peace and, as her sister said, it is a relief to know that she was not in pain and died instantly. She is with God now.
And may her teammates recover quickly with the knowledge that Grace will be watching over them.
Given the fact that she lost her life representing Holy Cross, and that she set a World Record wearing her purple and white, I would propose that Grace Rett be inducted into the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame.
Post by Pakachoag Phreek on Jan 18, 2020 7:32:13 GMT -5
Another lengthy Boston Globe article, for which I will make another exception to Fair Use.
After their daughter’s death, Grace Rett’s family returns to the water
By Zoe Greenberg Globe Staff,January 17, 2020
VERO BEACH, Fla. — A day after a deadly car crash that split their lives apart, Grace Rett’s family returned to the water. That’s where Rett loved to be.
Just across from the Vero Beach Rowing Club, the family climbed into a launch boat late Thursday afternoon as the sun glinted off the lagoon. Rett’s younger sister, Brianne, who is still in high school, wore a purple Holy Cross sweatshirt and clutched a pink teddy bear. The boat sliced through the basin, past clusters of lush mangroves and oyster-studded wooden posts, into the clear, calm water beyond.
“I think it was visiting places where Grace had most recently been,” said the Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, the president of the College of the Holy Cross, where Rett was a sophomore and record-breaking rower. Stephanie Ricker, an associate head coach for the Holy Cross women’s rowing team, had offered to show the family where their daughter’s team had been practicing before the tragic crash.
The women’s rowing team had traveled to Florida for a week of intensive winter training before classes begin next week. But early Wednesday morning, one of the team’s two vans turned left into oncoming traffic and collided with a red pickup truck, just above the water where they had been rowing.
The crash killed Rett, who had just turned 20 and was riding in the front passenger seat, and injured 12 others, including both drivers. Seven people remain in the hospital, including Patrick Diggins, the director of rowing at Holy Cross and the head coach of the women’s team, who was driving the van at the time of the accident.
Diggins told the Rev. Jim Hayes, a Holy Cross chaplain who traveled to Florida this week to be with the survivors and their families, that he would not be able to fly back to Massachusetts when he gets out of the hospital because of his injuries, Hayes said. Even so, he was determined to make it to Rett’s funeral, the chaplain said.
Family and friends reminisced about Rett’s kindness and resolve in the days after her death.
“Grace will always be in the hearts of everyone she knew,” Brianne Rett wrote in an e-mailed statement. “I’m sure she is already pulling a power ten up there in her boat in heaven.”
Holy Cross identified the other survivors of the crash who are still hospitalized as Paige Cohen, Anne Comcowich, Maggie O’Leary, Bianca McIver, and Hannah Strom, in addition to Diggins. The victims suffered brain injuries and serious pelvic and abdominal injuries, according to a trauma surgeon at Lawnwood Medical Center & Heart Institute, where they are being treated. A seventh rower, Maegan Moriarty, was discharged from the hospital on Thursday, according to the college. One survivor still remains unconscious at the hospital, though that person has not been identified.
In the hospital, the teammates are “heartbroken,” Boroughs said.
“They wanted to see each other and talk to each other as quickly as they could,” he said, adding that because some are in bed and in casts, they have been texting from room to room to check up on each other.
The Vero Beach community has responded to the tragedy with an outpouring of food and support, including offers for families visiting from Massachusetts to stay in their homes, Boroughs said. Hotel staff left notes in the rooms of the families who had traveled to Florida to be with their daughters.
On Friday morning, the city of Vero Beach wrapped purple ribbons around several of the light posts on the Barber Bridge; the crash took place at the intersection at its base. Darrell Rivers, a spokesman for the Vero Beach Police Department, climbed onto a crane and affixed a teddy bear to one of the posts.
“We’re Holy Cross strong,” he said.
Boroughs held a private mass for Rett’s family in their hotel room in Vero Beach on Friday morning, he said. He described the family as “people of very strong faith” in deep grief.
“This is a time when we believe Grace is at peace. We believe that it’s our loss,” Boroughs said the family told him.
On Friday afternoon, the family, along with Boroughs and Hayes, boarded an eight-seater plane lent by one of the college’s trustees to make their way back to Massachusetts. Rett’s mother wore a gray Holy Cross rowing t-shirt and wiped the tears from her eyes as she walked toward the plane.
Arrangements have been made for Grace Rett. Calling hours are Tuesday, January 21, 2020, from 2 - 7pm at St. Mary's Church in Uxbridge, MA. Her funeral will be on Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 10:00am, St. Mary's Church. The pastor of St. Mary's is Fr. Nicholas Desimone, Holy Cross, class of 2004.
The following is the link to her obituary in today's Worcester Telegram. What a beautiful tribute to her short lived life! Grace accomplished so much, way more than most could ever dream of in a longer life. She was truly a remarkable young woman and a wonderful role model for all. May God Bless her, her family and the entire Holy Cross community and may she rest in peace! And please continue to pray for those members of the team that remain hospitalized.